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What is Parental Notification?

A parental consent law (or parental notification law) is an issue surrounded by media attention. So without all the hype and biased opinions you hear on the news, here’s an honest answer to questions you should ask yourself about these laws before having an abortion. So what is a parental consent law? A parental consent law typically means that you will need to get permission from a parent or guardian if you are under 18 before undergoing the abortion procedure.

Does my state have it? Individual states decide whether or not to demand parental permission or notification for an abortion. At this time, Illinois does require a parental notification before an abortion. If you’re from another state, click here for a break down of each state’s requirements.

How do I notify my parents if my state requires me to? The state of Illinois does not require permission to be given by a minor’s parents for the abortion to take place. Instead, at least one parent will be given notification of the scheduled abortion. In most cases, as required by law, the physician or referring physician will give constructive notice via certified mail 48 hours prior to the abortion. At CareNet, our professional staff can help you determine what method of informing your parents is best. Family counseling is available with our Personal Resource Counselor, free of cost. Contact us to schedule an appointment.

Should I tell my parents anyway even if my state doesn’t require me to? This is a good question to ask yourself even if your state does not, by law, require you to. Abortion is one of the few medical procedures that does not always require the consent of a parent or guardian. Keeping in mind that abortion is a medical procedure, there are health risks involved. The following facts are taken directly from the Web MD article “Abortion- Before, During, and After an Abortion: When to Call a Doctor.”

• Severe bleeding. Both medical and surgical abortions usually cause bleeding that is different from a normal menstrual period. Severe bleeding can mean: passing clots that are bigger than a golf ball, lasting 2 or more hours; soaking more than 2 large pads in an hour, for 2 hours in a row; or bleeding heavily for 12 hours in a row.
• Signs of infection in your whole body, such as headache, muscle aches, dizziness, or a general feeling of illness. Severe infection is possible without fever.
• Severe pain in the abdomen that is not relieved by pain medicine, rest, or heat
• Hot flushes or a fever of 100.4F or higher that lasts longer than 4 hours
• Vomiting lasting more than 4 to 6 hours
• Sudden abdominal swelling or rapid heart rate
• Vaginal discharge that has increased in amount or smells bad
• Pain, swelling, or redness in the genital area
• Bleeding (not spotting) for longer than 2 weeks
• New, unexplained symptoms that may be caused by medicines used in your treatment
• No menstrual period within 6 weeks after the procedure
• Signs and symptoms of depression. Hormonal changes after a pregnancy can cause depression that requires treatment.

By law, a parental consent form is required for any surgery that takes place in a hospital. This means that if your guardian does not know about the procedure, they will not be present to sign off on a potentially life-saving surgery. In addition, let’s face it, this is a life-changing decision. It’s always good to talk something so impactful over with people who care about you whether that’s a guardian, a trusted teacher or relative.

Before you go in for an abortion, inform yourself; know your state’s laws, know the health risks of an abortion, know who to talk to about the decision and who to call if something goes wrong. Though whether or not to tell your parents is a difficult decision, your health and safety is always the most important thing to consider.

Original post by Sarah R.

Updated by Lindsay Z.

The information provided here is general in nature.  It is not a substitute for a consultation with a medical professional. Before any medical procedure, it is imperative that you discuss your personal medical history, risks, and concerns with your doctor. If you have questions during or after a procedure, your doctor should be immediately contacted. Avenue Women’s Center is not an emergency center.  If you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as bleeding and/or pain, seek immediate medical attention.  Contact your physician, go to an emergency room, or call 911.